It didn’t take long for Daryl to regret having let Merle drag him to the strip club. It wasn’t the first time he tried, but this time Daryl hadn’t managed to get away from it, with Merle saying it was his 18th birthday present and what not, literally dragging him to the club.
So there he was now, with his brother and Merle’s group of friends, feeling as out of place and awkward as ever, surrounded by half-naked girls and men hollering at them to take more clothes off, and honestly, he didn’t see the point.
He didn’t like his brother’s friends, he wasn’t interested in getting high like they did almost every night. He had never been tempted, seeing how the drugs made Merle a mean, bigger asshole, out of control, getting into even more trouble. He wasn’t interested in paying girls so they’d take their clothes off or seeing them naked either, if only it made him more uncomfortable.
“Come on, baby bro!” Merle’s voice was so loud Daryl was sure he could be heard in the whole club, not that it was big to begin with, and Daryl cringed, shrinking into his seat. “That one has her eyes on you!” Daryl scoffed, rolling his eyes, but he glanced to the half-naked girl for a second before dropping his gaze to the ground again, making Merle guffaw as he shoved a bill into the dancer’s underwear. “Booze’s on me too!”
Daryl swallowed the drink that Merle passed him in one go, hoping he’d get wasted soon and it’d made it easier to deal with Merle and his friends, but it only made his headache go worse.
At some point, the music changed and Merle elbowed him. “That’s the new girl! She’s been here for a month or so. You gotta see that ass!” Merle laughed and Daryl looked up from the floor and to the stage in time to see a girl stopping in front of a microphone. She wasn’t half naked like the others but wearing a tight, deep red, sequin dress. “She’s super hot, isn’t she?” Daryl shrugged but nodded, he supposed she was beautiful.
“Wait until she takes off the dress” Merle let out a big laugh. “You’re wearing too much clothes sweetheart!” He hollered at the girl, unnecessary loud considering they were as close as possible to the stage, and Daryl tried to make himself as small as possible on his seat again.
The girl just winked at his brother, and then she began singing.
You’ve been a bad, bad boy
gonna take my time, so enjoy
There’s no need to feel no shame
Relax, and sip upon my champagne
Cos I wanna give you a little taste
Of the sugar below my waist, you nasty boy.
She had a beautiful voice, Daryl had to give her that, he hadn’t expected he’d see something like that. All the men had gone quiet while she sang, even his brother, which wasn’t an easy thing to achieve.
Oh baby, for all it’s worth
I swear I’ll be the first to blow your mind
Now, if you’re ready, come and get me
I’ll give you that hot, sweet, sexy loving
Merle was right, she was beautiful, a smile on her face as she sang, her body rocking with the music, as if hypnotizing him, and Daryl found himself staring at her, he couldn’t help it.
Hush now, don’t say a word
I'm gonna give you what you deserve
Now, you better give me a little taste
Put your icing on my cake
You nasty boy.
Daryl’s eyes followed the girl’s hands as they roamed over her body and he swallowed hard, blushing, but he couldn’t make himself look away.
Now give me a little spanking
Oh, oh, is that all you’ve got?
Come on now, don’t play with me.
“I’ll spank you, just come here, darling, and take off that damn dress!” Merle hollered, laughing, making Daryl cringe again, but if the girl heard him she didn’t seem to care, still singing with that dreamy smile on her face.
Oh, give me that hot, sweet, nasty
Boy, don’t you make me wait [
Now you better give me a little taste
Put your icing on my cake
You nasty boy.
The song ended, the music changed and the spell was broken. The men were back at hollering at the girls and Daryl was back at looking at the floor.
“Come here, sweetheart, and lose some clothes!”
Daryl heard his brother cheering and when he looked up he saw him calling for the singer as he waved some bills on his hand. The girl let her dress fall to the floor as she approached them, revealing black, lace underwear, and Daryl quickly dropped his gaze to the floor again.
“It’s sweet you come to watch me sing almost every day,” the girl said and Daryl looked up just enough to see Merle shoving some bills into her underwear before dropping his gaze to the floor again.
“Not as sweet as that ass of yours, that’s what I come to see!” Merle guffawed. “You know what sweetheart, it’s my baby bro birthday!” Daryl felt his brother throwing an arm over his shoulders, roughly pulling him to his side. “Why you don’t give him a private show as a present, uh?” Daryl’s cheeks heat up, his heart beating hard, and he managed to break free from his brother’s grasp.
“It doesn’t seem he likes me much.” The girl chuckled awkwardly and Daryl said nothing, eyes fixed on the ground.
“Goddamit…what’s wrong with you, lil’ bro?!” Merle grumbled. “Ignore him, sweetheart, you have the attention of the best, big brother. He gotta embarrass me everywhere, being such a pussy.”
“Shut up!” Daryl snapped, glaring at his brother, who was smirking as if he had accomplished whatever he’d been trying to do. He forced himself to look at the girl as if trying to prove a point. She was beautiful indeed, her smile sweet as she looked at him, and she looked younger than he had realized.
“Happy birthday, darling…what you say, do you want a private show? That’s not really something that I do, but well, could make an exception for those eyes of yours.” She winked at him and Daryl’s heart skipped a beat, it was being hard not to look away. “Well, these straps are looking too bare, aren’t they, darling?” She wiggled one of her shoulders, hooking a finger under the strap of her bra and pulling at it. “Maybe get your brother to decorate them with some bills and I’ll think about giving you that private show…”
She leaned over towards where he was sat down until Daryl’s eyes landed on her neckline and he couldn’t keep it together any longer, sitting up abruptly, almost pushing the girl away.
“I don’t need any of that!” He snapped, storming away, gritting his teeth in shame as he heard Merle’s and his friend’s loud laughs.
“Told you sweetheart, a pussy!”
During the next days, Daryl couldn’t stop thinking about the night of his birthday, the strip club and the girl, feelings of embarrassment and shame making him blush red again. Merle had kept teasing him, laughing at him when he managed to make him snap.
He didn’t know why but he couldn’t get that singer out of his head, no matter he tried, his brain kept replaying her song and he kept seeing her smile, seeing her winking at him, calling him darling…He was sick and tired of it all, and he was doing his best to forget about that night and ignore his brother’s teasing.
About a week later, Daryl was walking through the woods, hoping to find some squirrels or a rabbit, when he heard some noises. As he walked closer, he recognized a voice singing and then she saw a girl walking around.
Daryl lowered his crossbow, wondering what she was doing there, he had never seen someone there, though the girl seemed oblivious to his presence. She spun as she sang and then she spotted him, jumping a bit.
“Shit, you scared me!”
Daryl didn’t say anything, just looked at her. He had thought he recognized the singing voice, and now he was almost sure it was her. She looked very different without makeup though, and younger, and even her voice as she spoke was different than when she’d talked in the strip club, less husky.
“You hunting or something?” She asked when he still didn’t say anything, and Daryl nodded. “Didn’t know I was in risk of getting hunted.” She chuckled quietly.
“I’d never seen none here,” Daryl said quietly.
“I know, that’s why I decided to come for a walk.”
It seemed she didn’t know who he was, and why would she, sure a lot of men had come and gone to the club since his birthday and sure she smiled and winked to everyone, she hadn’t even really looked at him.
“By the way, hi! You’re the birthday boy!” Or maybe she did know who he was, and Daryl found himself blushing at her words. “You’re the brother of Merle, he’s a loud guy but he comes almost every night and tips a lot.”
Daryl nodded in silence, looking down
“It’s a good night when he shows up, I never get as many tips as when he does.” She chuckled again.
“You give him a lot of private shows?” Daryl didn’t know what made him snap like that, maybe the embarrassing memories of that night.
“I told you that day, I don’t do that. And anyway, it doesn’t seem that safe to do private shows to half the men that go there, you know…”
“You seemed pretty ready to give me one.”
“I knew you weren’t going to say yes, you seemed scared of me.” She giggled softly and Daryl blushed in embarrassment, glaring at her. “Or maybe you don’t like me, dunno.”
“What if I had said yes?”
“Well, I would have asked for a very generous tip to your brother and then you’d have found that I’m actually not that good of a dancer.” She chuckled awkwardly. “But I wasn’t worried, you looked harmless, you seemed sweet despite the guys you were with. It just seemed a good way to get more tips from your brother.”
She shrugged and Daryl didn’t know what to say to all that, he knew she had talked to him like that back then only for the money, but still…he wondered if she was playing with him now too, and laughing at him. He didn’t know what to do.
“I ain't sweet.” He snapped. Merle called him that sometimes as an insult or to laugh at him.
“Well, you don’t look harmless now with that thing.” She pointed at his crossbow.
Daryl wondered if she might think he would hurt her…it bothered him but it shouldn’t surprise him, most of the people of that town thought all kind of things about the Dixon’s…some of the things they thought about Merle and his friends were true, but others weren’t.
“I ain't gonna hurt you or nothing.”
“You hunt a lot?”
“That must be so cool, being able to fend for yourself.”
Daryl just shrugged again.
“Your brother has kept coming to the club but you never came back.”
Daryl didn’t know why she was still trying to talk to him, with how awkward everything was, and he wasn’t sure if he liked it or not but he couldn’t make himself walk away.
“Look, I’m sorry about that night, the way in which you left, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad or anything.”
Daryl just scoffed at that. “Why you talking to me now? I ain't gonna put nothing in your bra if that’s what you’re trying to get.”
“Yeah, cos I’m a stripper who only does shit for money, how did I forgot.” The girl snapped. “You know, I was wrong about you.”
She turned over and began walking away, further into the woods, and Daryl didn’t know why but he felt a stab of guilt in his gut that made him follow her.
“You’re going in the wrong direction.”
“You’re walking away from the town.” Daryl pointed behind them.
“Maybe that’s what I want.” The girl looked at him defiantly.
“You're gonna get lost.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“Whatever then, I don’t give a shit.” Daryl turned to walk away and despite his words, he was relieved when he heard the girl walking behind him.
“How comes you don’t get lost?”
“I know these woods.” He shrugged, he had been going there for years now.
“You talk like you had been coming here for years and years but what are you, like fifteen?” The girl giggled and Daryl glared at her. “Don’t look at me like that, I’m just kidding! You looked too young to be in a strip club though.”
“I’m eighteen.” He grumbled. “And aren’t you too young to work in one? You can’t be much older than me.”
“I’m not too young, I turned nineteen months ago, and it’s not like this town has a lot of jobs to offer you know. I need it… How was that that you said? Gotta eat.”
“You don’t have family or nothing?”
“My mom died a year and a half ago.” The girl looked down and Daryl felt a stab in his heart he hadn’t felt in years as he was unable to stop the memory of his mother from coming to his mind at the girl’s words.
“I’m sorry.” He mumbled awkwardly.
“Don’t have none else so I gotta work, so I dropped out of school and began working as a cashier until they fired me a couple of months ago and then the only thing I found was that club… I wasn’t sure they’d hire me, I hadn’t danced before but I guess they liked that I sing…Can't dance as much as all that other girls do, but well, I try…” She chuckled quietly, wiggling her hips a bit, but Daryl thought she sounded sad.
“You sing well.” Daryl couldn’t stop himself from saying it aloud. She was beautiful too, Daryl didn’t know how she could have thought the club might not hire her.
“Thank you!” The girl gave him a bright smile and Daryl felt his stomach knot with strange twirls. “You know, once I’ve saved enough money I'm gonna go to the city and try to be a real singer. I know it won’t be easy but it’d be better than this shit town, can’t wait to leave… Gonna need a lot of your brother’s tips for that.” She giggled.
Daryl said nothing, just kept walking in silence.
“What about you, got anything you want to do with your life?”
“Why you keep talking to me?” Daryl didn’t mean to snap, didn’t mean to be rude, but he couldn’t understand why she’d still try to have a conversation with him, why would she tell him all that, why would she be interested in anything about him. He didn’t know what might she want from him, he had nothing, he wasn’t his brother.
“Dunno…Just trying to be friendly.” The girl shrugged, her smile gone. “I’m sorry, I won’t bother you more.” The girl followed him in silence and Daryl didn’t know why, but it made him feel bad.
“There’s nothing I want to do with my life.” He muttered after a little while, when he could already see the town ahead. He had never thought about it, he just followed Merle around, doing what his brother wanted, and he didn’t know if there was something else for him to do, he didn’t think so.
“There must be something…there’s nothing you really, really like doing?” The girl walked a bit faster until she was walking next to him, making him a bit nervous. Daryl shrugged, he had never given that any thought.
“Dunno…I like the woods I guess.”
“Me too.” The girl gave him one of those smiles that made his stomach do funny things. “It’s only the second day I go for a walk, but I think I really like it. It’s quiet.”
“Or it was until you bumped into me and I started talking your ear off, right?” The girl giggled, though she sounded a bit embarrassed.
“Didn’t mind it.” It was true, much to Daryl’s surprise, he usually didn’t like to talk to people, especially if he didn’t know them. He wasn’t used to be with anyone who wasn’t his brother and his friends.
“Yeah?” The girl smiled again and Daryl hummed a yes. “I thought I was annoying you.”
“Nah…just don’t know why you’d want to talk to me.” Daryl found himself admitting, though he regretted it as soon as it left his mouth, making him feel silly.
“Maybe I think you’re interesting.”
Daryl looked at her at that, taken aback and sure she was messing with him and laughing at him, but she was looking down. Daryl felt lost. It didn’t seem like the girl was laughing at him, but he couldn’t understand why she might think he was interesting, or why she was still trying to talk with him.
“I’m Y/N, by the way.” The girl gave him another smile, she still seemed genuine, but Daryl wasn’t sure he could lower his guard, could trust that the girl wasn’t just messing with him, laughing at him behind his back. Still, some part of him wanted her not to stop talking to him.
“I know” The girl nodded, smiling shyly. “It’s nice to meet you properly…well, I’m not sure it was nice for you.” The girl chuckled awkwardly, and Daryl didn’t know what to say. It hadn’t been not-nice, but he also felt awkward and nervous, and they just walked in silence further into the town.
“I’m going to that direction.” The girl pointed to the right, stopping to look at him as she chewed on her lower lip. “Are you going to go hunting to the same place tomorrow?”
“Maybe.” He should, he hadn’t hunted anything today, but he didn’t know why Y/N might care.
“Well, maybe I’ll to go for a walk to the same place tomorrow too,” Y/N said, Daryl still didn’t know why. “So maybe we’ll bump into each other again.” She looked at him as if expecting him to say anything, but he didn’t. “Or maybe not…okay, I gotta go, sorry for bothering you.”
Was she saying all that because she wanted to see him again? It made as little sense to Daryl as her wanting to talk to him, but for some reason it seemed she wanted to, and it didn’t seem to be because she was trying to trick him into something or laugh at him.
Did he want to see her again? Daryl wasn’t sure. He’d never had friends or anyone who wasn’t his brother, none who seemed interested in talking with him like that girl was, and he didn’t care, he was good alone. He didn’t know why someone like that girl could want to get to know him, but something in him made him want to know her too, no matter she made him nervous and awkward, no matter he still couldn’t understand why she wanted to talk with him.
The girl began walking away and Daryl made his decision.
“Same hour than today?”
The girl turned to look at him, a grin illuminating his face, making Daryl’s heart beat faster.
As he watched her walk away, Daryl wondered if he’d regret it…he wondered if he was already regretting it. Still, as he walked to Merle’s place, he couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corner of his lips as he thought about Y/N. He didn’t understand that girl or why she seemed to want to be her friend, he wasn’t sure if he wanted her to be his friend, but he knew he wanted to try.